Monday, August 13, 2012

The Troll With No Heart in His Body and other Tales of Trolls, from Norway by Lise Lunge-Larsen

There's nothing like a creepy, hairy, enormous monster to scare the bejeebers out of a reader. Trolls were the monster of choice in my home with our Norwegian-American heritage. Trolls were ferocious and liked to eat children. They could have multiple heads, but that didn't equate into more brain power. More like brain drain. They argued with each other until they gave each other headaches. According to the folk tales, they liked to kidnap princesses and hold them captive so they would rub their sore heads after arguing with each other. And boy -oh boy- are they loud. When they yell, such as in the three Billy Goats Gruff, "Who's that stepping on my bridge?" the ground rumbles and every person and animal quakes in fear.

Nine stories about trolls in Scandinavia are presented in this novel. They are written for the reader to tell as stories out loud with repetition and short moral tales. The author's note explains the themes that are covered and each story explains the origins and modifications of some so that they are more appropriate for younger children. For instance, one story has the narrator-child cutting off the head of a troll child in the classic story. The author modified it so that the troll child is pushed in the stew and eaten by the unknowing troll parents by the clever child. Another story has an eating competition where the child pretends to make a hole in his stomach so he can eat more than the troll. He has hidden a sack in his clothes and slips the food in it. The troll, not wanting to lose the competition but being full, decides to make a hole in his own stomach like the boy. He stabs himself and dies by turning into stone. While the stories are toned down for younger readers, they are still violent - some more than others.  

The stories usually surround a child who is disobedient and ends up with a troll who is going to eat them. The child has to rely on his or her own wits to get out of the predicament. The trolls nature is contradictory to human nature and it is a clear foil to the child hero. The lessons deal with how actions have consequences, it is important to never give up, to believe in yourself, and more. This is a good book for the storyteller looking for short stories to present to an audience.

Reading Level 5.6
3 out of 5 Smileys

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